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Internal Working Model Revision by Marriage: A Single Subject Design with a Latter-Day Saint Couple

23 July 2018


According to Bowlby’s attachment theory, an individual develops an internal working model (IWM) during early childhood. Intra- and interpersonal interactions are interpreted by one’s IWM across the lifespan. Although one’s IWM is mostly enduring, it is thought to change across one’s lifespan. Bowlby described the event of marriage as capable of instigating more dramatic revision to an IWM. In the United States, views on marriage and patriarchy held by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) are unique from views held by dominant culture. This study uses a single-subject experimental design to track IWM changes among an LDS couple entering marriage. Attachment security was measured for individuals in a dyad relative to their attachment security to their partner, mother, father, and God. Baseline measurement was taken for 3 months previous to marriage and post-marriage measurement was taken for 10 months following marriage. The study assessed for stressful life events, other than marriage, which could account for IWM revision. Attachment to partners and God showed variation and no demonstrable trajectories of change. Attachment to parents showed a high degree of stability. Other patterns of attachment security variation are discussed.


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